Dona Nelson: Stand Alone Paintings presents over thirty works from the last four decades to demonstrate the breadth and continuity of Nelson’s influential painting career. This exhibition brings together for the first time important, rarely shown figurative paintings with the more recent abstract paintings for which Nelson is best known. Nelson’s works play with materials and varying degrees of abstraction, and her bold, free-standing canvases, painted front to back, challenge accepted ideas of what painting is, and what the boundaries between painting and sculpture are. Oscillating between representation and abstraction, Nelson transforms her created environments into personal and profound viewing experiences.
Born in Grand Island, Nebraska, Nelson moved to New York City in 1967 to participate in the newly formed Whitney Independent Study Program. In the following decades, she played a prominent role in shaping the direction of abstract painting in New York, forging an independent vocabulary and style that melds painting with sculpture, representation with abstraction, oils and acrylics with untraditional materials such as cheese cloth and modeling paste. Pulling from the gestural forms of Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock and Clyfford Still, many of Nelson’s diverse series of works are meant to be experienced as an environment or installation.
Nelson’s paintings have been featured in solo exhibitions at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Morris Gallery, Philadelphia; and more than a dozen galleries in New York City. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
Dona Nelson: Stand Alone Paintings is presented by the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. The exhibition is curated by Tang Museum Dayton Director Ian Berry. A comprehensive catalogue will accompany the exhibition, chronicling the history of Nelson’s work through images, historical essays, and new scholarship. This is the first major solo museum survey for Nelson in nearly two decades.